Why we collect art

Building up an art collection is not a black and white affair. It is a complex endeavour, albeit a one that delivers a lot of rewards, both financially and personally, enriching the heart, mind and soul.

We can look at it from the point of view that art affects us. Like a good piece of music, a wonderful novel or a dramatic film, all art moves, entertains and provokes us.

For many, it is about a visceral reaction. One can see a work by Pablo Picasso and be moved by its beauty. In this instance, such a work is not about money, it isn’t bought with to be sold.

It’s poetry. It’s the human condition. The French impressionist painter Edgar Degas made an interesting point when he said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”.

Some people, therefore, do not see it as a hobby. It’s a way of existing, art being something that complements their life.

For example, an anonymous individual explained as such last year when talking to swissinfo.ch.

“My collection is about my couple, part of a love story that creates another bond between my wife and me,” he said. “I don’t really like to be called a collector, I prefer to call it a passion. For us, it’s a way of life, but I am very cautious because it’s very intimate.”

For others, of course, it is about building up an investment that is aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable, but ultimately one that will see high returns. However, by virtue of the way the industry works, it is not about quick turnarounds.

One can buy a work of art and it can be years before they put it up to auction. It’s about being savvy, understanding the market, where trends can dictate what works can reap the most at a given time, and what is and what isn’t “hot”.

This approach to collecting, which is to say that it’s financially motivated, has grown over the last few years. Art is, like fine wine and gold, an alternative investment, extremely robust in comparison to traditional commodities like stocks.

A work of art will always hold its value, unlike shares, which are massively susceptible to the way an economy is in any given moment, as well as prone to the way senior financial experts respond to developments.

With all that in mind, it is important that people really think deeply about why they are going to start building a collection. Whether you’re collecting for passion or for investment opportunities, it is something that becomes a focal part of your life.

There are many things to consider after all, like conservation, where to store it, what specialist art removal services you need to hire, and whether you allow it to go on public display.

It is a constant, something that will accompany you over the years, whether it is your first purchase that stays cemented to your wall or a delightful rare find that is eventually sold half a decade after it was first acquired.

“We believe you should buy art because it brings beauty, joy and inspiration into our lives,” the Affordable Art Fair’s organisers say.

“It’s a pleasure to look at something every day which makes you smile, or recall fond memories of different people and places. An individual’s reasons may be deeply personal, but the over-arching rationale is the same the world over: we buy and collect art because it brings us pleasure.”Why we collect art(Laurie Rubin, The Red Studio by Henri Matisse)

Why we collect art© Courtesy Ellerman House

Why we collect art

Why we collect art© Justin Kriel

Why we collect art© Courtesy Le Negresco


Tags: art, collect art, design, ideas, room

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